October 19, 2005: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Baumgarten ’06
Shortly after the football team’s 43–3 thrashing of Columbia Oct. 1, the Tigers’ jubilant hoots and hollers could be heard clearly in the hallway outside their locker room underneath Princeton Stadium. Behind the closed doors, linebacker Alan Borelli ’06 was standing on a chair, delivering his post-victory “war call.”
“There aren’t many things that are greater than the locker room after a winning football game,” smiling quarterback Jeff Terrell ’07 explained a few minutes later in the press room down the hall.
Borelli’s post-game exhortations have become a tradition this season, thanks to Princeton’s 3–0 start (1–0 Ivy League), and if the Tigers keep playing as they did against the Lions, Borelli could have several more chances to deliver his speech.
Princeton dominated Columbia in every facet of the game, outgaining the Lions by nearly 400 yards, controlling the ball for more than 40 minutes, and not turning the ball over even once. The Tigers scored on their first nine possessions, and their first punt of the game came after head coach Roger Hughes mercifully inserted the third-team offense late in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, Hughes was as pleased by his team’s performance as he’s been by any in recent memory, even as he pointed out the areas in which Princeton could improve — the Tigers racked up 12 penalties and “settled” for a field goal five times.
“I’d like to say it was our A-minus game,” Hughes said. “I don’t want to put a limit and say to our kids this is as good as we can play, because I think we can play better.”
It was certainly a vast improvement over Princeton’s performance against San Diego a week earlier. After jumping to an early 13-point lead in their home opener Sept. 24, the Tigers barely hung on for a 20–17 win.
The visiting Toreros controlled the ball for just under 40 minutes and gained nearly twice as many yards on offense as Princeton, but cornerback Jay McCareins ’06 single-handedly saved the day for the Tigers on defense and special teams.
In addition to intercepting three passes and breaking up four others, he picked up 229 yards on returns — three more than the Princeton offense produced. Time and again, McCareins made the Toreros look as if they were playing in slow motion, deftly eluding would-be tacklers on punt and kick returns and swiftly closing on seemingly open receivers to knock away passes.
“I don’t know if superlatives can explain it,” Hughes said. “He was just remarkable, fabulous, marvelous — whatever superlative you want to use.”
No play was more remarkable — or more important — than McCareins’ third interception of the day late in the fourth quarter. With Princeton clinging to a 13–10 lead, the Toreros mounted a 67-yard clock-burning drive that included two diving fourth-down conversions. McCareins already had batted down one pass in the end zone on the drive, but on a third-and-eight from the Princeton 13-yard-line,
Torero quarterback Josh Johnson attacked again.
Recognizing the play as the same one San Diego ran on the previous snap, McCareins feigned covering an inside receiver to bait a throw to the corner. When Johnson bit and put the ball in the air, McCareins quickly recovered, stepped in front of the pass, and scampered 99 yards down the sideline the other way for a touchdown and a 20–10 lead.
“All I know,” Hughes said, “is when we’re in practice, I know where Jay is at and I don’t throw at him.”
The Toreros needed just two plays and 30 seconds to cut the gap to 20–17, forcing McCareins to make one last play to seal the win. His speed had stolen the show the first 13 times he touched the ball that afternoon, but for his 14th and final act, McCareins’ hands took center stage. With 45 seconds left, he softly welcomed San Diego’s onside kick into his waiting arms and hung on as three Toreros drove him into the Princeton Stadium turf.
“I got hit pretty hard,” an exhausted-looking McCareins said afterward, and then he smiled. “It was sweet.”
David Baumgarten ’06 is the Daily Princetonian’s managing editor for sports.